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Public information and electoral bias

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  • Taylor, Curtis R.
  • Yildirim, Huseyin
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    Abstract

    We present a theory of voting that predicts that elections are more likely to be close, and voter turnout is more likely to be high when citizens possess better public information about the composition of the electorate. These findings suggest that providing more information to potential voters about aggregate political preferences (e.g., through pre-election polls or expert forecasts) may undermine the democratic process. Our analysis reveals that if the distribution of political preferences is common knowledge, then the unique type-symmetric equilibrium leads to a stark neutrality result in which each alternative is equally likely to win the election. By contrast, when citizens are ignorant about the preference distribution, the majority is more likely to win the election and expected voter turnout is lower. Welfare is, therefore, unambiguously higher when citizens possess less information about the preference distribution.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 353-375

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:1:p:353-375

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

    Related research

    Keywords: Costly voting Public information Electoral bias;

    References

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    1. Jeffrey S. Rosenthal & Martin J. Osborne & Matthew A. Turner, 2000. "Meetings with Costly Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 927-943, September.
    2. Roger B. Myerson, 1994. "Population Uncertainty and Poisson Games," Discussion Papers 1102, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    3. Cesar Martinelli, 2002. "Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?," Working Papers 0210, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
    4. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1994. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Discussion Papers 1117, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    5. DUTTA, Bhaskar & JACKSON, Matthew O. & LE BRETON, Michel, 1999. "Strategic candidacy and voting procedures," CORE Discussion Papers 1999011, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    6. Roger B. Myerson, 1997. "Large Poisson Games," Discussion Papers 1189, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    7. Klor, Esteban F & Winter, Eyal, 2006. "On Public Opinion Polls and Voters' Turnout," CEPR Discussion Papers 5669, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Marco Ottaviani & Peter Norman Sørensen, 2004. "The Strategy of Professional Forecasting," FRU Working Papers 2004/05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Finance Research Unit.
    9. Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias K., 2009. "Is mandatory voting better than voluntary voting?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 275-291, May.
    10. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
    11. Curtis R. Taylor & Huseyin Yildirim, 2006. "An Analysis of Rational Voting with Private Values and Cost Uncertainty," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000060, UCLA Department of Economics.
    12. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855266 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Jacob Goeree & Jens Großer, 2007. "Welfare Reducing Polls," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 51-68, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Andonie, Costel & Kuzmics, Christoph, 2012. "Pre-election polls as strategic coordination devices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 681-700.
    2. Taylor, Curtis R. & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2010. "A unified analysis of rational voting with private values and group-specific costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 457-471, November.

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